Zinman nurtures the moods of 'Rustic Wedding Symphony'

September 13, 1997|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Although his name rarely appears on concert programs today, Karl Goldmark (1830-1915) was once one of the most famous composers alive. Except for the rare occasions when enterprising violin players dust off his A Minor Concerto, he is nearly forgotten.

Not by David Zinman, however, who opened his final season as the Baltimore Symphony's music director Thursday night in Meyerhoff Hall with the composer's "Rustic Wedding Symphony." At one time this piece enjoyed the status of a chestnut. It was ensconced in the Germano-Austrian repertory of most conductors trained before World War II.

The "Rustic Wedding Symphony" is really a symphonic suite in five movements. Each one bears a title, and they demand an interpreter willing to devote himself to pictorial tone paintings. It was clear from this beautifully detailed performance that it is a work that Zinman cares about deeply.

The opening movement, "Wedding March," begins as a simple tune in the lower strings and is subjected to a dozen variations. The conductor was able to strike an individual mood for each of them, and he gave the subsequent movement -- a not exactly blushing "Bridal Song" -- a flirty edge. The third movement "Serenade," a bagpipe imitation (with the tune in the oboe and clarinet and drone on bassoon and cello), featured distinguished playing by the orchestra's woodwinds.

Zinman took the slow movement, "In a Summer Garden," flexibly, making it blossom with enough romantic ardor to suggest that Pietro Mascagni had studied Goldmark's score before he sat down to write "Cavalleria Rusticana." In the final movement, a whirlwind fugato simply called "Dance," Zinman and the orchestra clearly enjoyed themselves.

The program opened with a performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto in D Minor in which soloist Misha Dichter enjoyed superb support from Zinman and the orchestra. He did not attempt to exaggerate or underplay the combative aspects of the concerto's corner movements and the pianissimo passages of the second movement were sustained by compelling intensity and concentration.

Pub Date: 9/13/97

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